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Democrats to Let Offshore Drilling Ban Expire

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Democrats have blinked on the issue of offshore drilling.

After months of pressure from Republicans, who made offshore drilling a campaign issue, Democrats in the House have decided to allow a quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to expire next week.

GOP House leader John Boehner calls the Democratic switch "capitulation" and says it's "a big victory for Americans struggling with record gasoline prices."

The action lifts the drilling moratoriums for both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts but a ban in waters within 125 miles of Florida's western coast would remain in force. That area is covered under a law passed by Congress in 2006.

Even if the Senate goes along with the House, it doesn't mean any federal sale of oil and gas leases in the offshore waters, much less actual drilling, would be imminent.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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